I founded a charity which applied therapy to everyday life. Concerned by the levels of isolation and loneliness on a council housing estate, I worked with residents to build networks of emotional support that contributed to the recovery of neighbourliness and community participation.

Sadly, the charity died in the Autumn of 2014 after a long fight for survival. I remain very engaged by participant models which to my mind have much to offer at a time when financial resources are limited.

I recently created In Place Consulting. The consultancy builds on my experience at the charity for working across sectors in the design and implementation of effective responses to entrenched social needs.

IN PLACE CONSULTING: Innovating Participant Solutions

I am passionate about working to new models of health and social care.

There are practical reasons for adopting new approaches to entrenched social problems. Nowadays, many people:

feel pushed into passive positions. Their contact with services often only intensifies their feelings of helplessness and loss of agency.

experience their local communities as fragmented places where everyone is guarded and keeps to themselves.

cope by becoming invisible. They lock themselves away indoors, feeling too vulnerable to go out often.

Many elders, young mums, people with health problems and people looking for work can feel cut-off from their neighbourhoods and communities. I have spoken with many people who describe feeling tremendously on their own with difficulties and who have learnt to build protective walls. Staying indoors and not going out can be a way of staying safe but it can make the smallest of everyday tasks feel overwhelming. 

Participant approaches are remarkably effective ways to improve health, by enabling people who feel side-lined, excluded or marginalized to become vital contributors to the recovery of neighbourliness and community. Active and participatory approaches build dignity and self-esteem - and support people to get back into the driving seat of their lives.